I’ve had a long running photography project of over 30 photos documenting the urban decay and ugliness in the city of Carson. It’s called the Carson Ugly Project. I’ve been shooting this type of photo since I started by blog nearly eight years ago. I wander around on my lunch hour and shoot urban ugly. It’s what I do. This photo is a great example. Two layers of barbered wire protect a black river and then on to an ugly refinery. It’s ugly and I love it, but others do not see it with my eyes.
My peaceful and meaningless hobby is threatened by the jackbooted thugs known affectionately as the Long Beach Police department. Police Chief Jim McDonnell is detaining street photographers for taking photos “with no apparent esthetic value.”
McDonnell spoke for a follow-up story on a June 30 incident in which Sander Roscoe Wolff, a Long Beach resident and regular contributor to Long Beach Post, was detained by Officer Asif Kahn for taking pictures of a North Long Beach refinery.
"If an officer sees someone taking pictures of something like a refinery," says McDonnell, "it is incumbent upon the officer to make contact with the individual." McDonnell went on to say that whether said contact becomes detainment depends on the circumstances the officer encounters.
I’ve been stopped twice by Los Angles County Sheriffs for taking photos. Once for shooting a flag draped oil refinery and another time for shooting a nasty black river. Both times I was questioned about my activities and allowed to continue without much pain. They were just doing their job in a post 911 high risk area. I’m ok with that, but I’m not so sure I would be happy with a cop looking at my photos and judging their ascetic value. Take a look at the photo above. I shot it because I love the way it looks. I love the ugly. I’m not so sure a cop or anybody else would understand.
This is my turf. I’m going to continue shooting.